1000-Peso Challenge: Cagbalete Island
I never thought of an island so close to that of Boracay’s white sand or to Pagudpud’s swaying palm trees. I also never imagined of an island that I call “paradise on earth” – that is Cagbalete Island.
Cagbalete: Paradise on Earth
Off the coast of Mauban, Quezon in Lamon Bay is a small island called ‘Cagbalete.’ As I don’t know exactly why it was called such, this tropical island – as big as Boracay – is an adventure on its own.
What struck me in awe about this island is its natural beauty when the tides are low. You have probably guessed it – you would see beautifully-patterned sand waves ashore perfectly contrasted with blue skies and shadowing mountaintops on mainland Luzon.
The island’s simplicity is just so overwhelming. With a number of co-tourists when we arrived there at lunch time, I have observed that island life is really far from why I have used to live in the City. People have simple livelihoods, they are very caring and very accommodating, and they have modest views on life. Simply amazing! (Not that I am advertising a Telecom network here. Hahaha!)
When I and some of my new-found friends (woot!) met to have a get-together in this island, I never had second thoughts on going, even if I am the only one from Baguio.
Whenever going to Cagbalete, it is best when you bring a tent with you. There are several resorts on the island that rent out cottages at reasonable prices (which are good for groups, though). Also, there is a minimal entrance (camping) fee that we have paid to the resort we were in. Contact your tour provider for such expense.
The island’s some 1,600 hectare area is also home to rich flora and fauna. It is also the first time I actually touched a starfish! Yes! That island is also home to Agoho pine trees aside from palm trees dotted along the island’s shoreline. On the other side of Cagbalete, there is also a Mangrove sanctuary and some sandbars perfect for picture-taking!
Just 4-5 hours away from Manila via public transport, Cagbalete is worth the travel, I tell you. Yes, it can be tiring, but its welcoming atmosphere just blows your stresses away.
The 1000-Peso Challenge
As a new adage to Turista Boy, I have conceptualized this challenge to determine if a budget of 1000 pesos or less is enough to enjoy some of the Philippines’ best and up-and-coming travel destinations. (Note that fares to and from Baguio and Manila are not included in this challenge.)
This is now the second post about the challenge and I am excited to share to you guys what I have experienced in Cagbalete. Happy reading!
|0100 – 0200||Meeting Time (JAC Liner EDSA Kamias Terminal)|
|0200 – 0530||Travel Time (JAC Liner EDSA Kamias Terminal – Lucena Grand Terminal)||P 218|
|0530 – 0600
0600 – 0730
|Breakfast (Lucena Grand Terminal)
Travel Time (Lucena Grand Terminal – Mauban, Quezon)
With Wander Pinas’ very first (of the many) getting-to-know trips, this is the most memorable so far for me. It’s like we became best friends in a span of two days! Yes!
Focusing on the trip, we talked to meet by 0100 H and JAC Liner EDSA-Kamias as the rendezvous. Daily trips are available to and from Cubao, Lucena, and Mauban (by schedule) and JAC Liner is one of the major bus lines servicing the route, arriving at Lucena Grand Terminal.
Travel time from Cubao, Quezon City to Lucena, Quezon is approximately 4 hours and upon arriving, it’s the perfect time to have breakfast. The central terminal is so wide that there are various eateries there. Even pasalubong centers are instantly available.
After breakfast, we boarded another bus going to Mauban, Quezon, which is roughly around 1 hour and 30 minutes away. The buses servicing the route are ordinary buses (that’s why I like it more because I can smell fresh air. Hehehe!)
|0730 – 0830||Rest, buy essentials in Mauban
Registration at Tourism Office
|0900 – 0945||Travel Time (Mauban Port – Cagbalete Island)||P 300 per pax, round trip (via private boat)|
|1000 – 1100||Pitching of tents, rest, prepare for Lunch||P 200 (entrance / camping fee)|
Upon arriving in Mauban, it is advisable that you go immediately to their local Tourism Office to register and so that you can queue up in the port for boarding. In our case, our group chartered a private boat (maximum of 20 persons) to escape the long queue. And believe it or not, we were at the port by 0830 H and our number stub is 80+!
The tourism office in Mauban is open from 0700 H – 1700 H on weekdays and 0500 H – 1800 H during weekends. It is also advised by the Philippine Coastguard that the last trip going to the islands is at 1700 H. 🙂
If you want to charter a boat for your group (which is advisable to be in a group of 20), you can contact Kuya Jayjay at +63 939 111 2012.
Turista Boy Tip:
Buy all your food and essentials before boarding your boat in the port to save energy! It is better if you buy everything you need it before travelling – to avoid the hassle and by not getting that much tired. Food in the island is pricier so you might want to save up.
When reaching Cagbalete Island, you have to walk for some 500 meters from the shore (especially when you arrive at midday) because of low tide. The water is only ankle-high anyway. The water will eventually rise in late afternoon.
The Island experience
|1100 – 1200||Lunch Time!|
|1200 – 1400||Free Time! (Beach Bumming, photo ops, etc.)|
To fully maximize that island experience, it is also good to setup at bonfire at the center of your pitched tents. As most of the shores in the island are dubbed as ‘tent city,’ it is best to enjoy the company of your friends in a bonfire (also when cooking food!)
When we were there, some locals offered help to let our food be cooked in their house for a minimal fee (talk about hospitality!) We then shared food with each other and enjoyed our simple lunch by the shore.
After eating, what else should we do? Edi pictorial! So we bummed the beach and strolled along the dry shores of Cagbalete at midday. Also, we got a bonus of getting those tan lines after. 🙂
We also met some adorable kids and we got to chat with them for some time. We asked them questions about the island, and obviously, there answers are very innocent and very simple. Oh, how I miss my childhood days, too. We just laughed our way together while exploring Cagbalete‘s shore (and while taking lots and lots of pictures!)
Strolling around Cagbalete
|1400 – 1730||Mangrove Sanctuary visit and snorkeling (45-minute boat ride)||
P 150 per pax, round trip
In the late afternoon, our group decided to go to the Mangrove Sanctuary on the other side of the island. It is a 30-40 minute boat ride from our station at Pansacola Resort to the sanctuary. In the early afternoon, waters are also very shallow and some sand bars started to appear.
These mangroves then became an instant additional tourist attraction in Cagbalete for ‘photophiles’ like us. Hehehe! It is best to go to the sanctuary before the sun sets because the waters will start to rise as evening draws near. After visiting the mangrove plantation, some of us decided to dive the deep waters and go snorkeling. FYI, it is also good if you have your own snorkeling gear because boaters may charge you for an additional fee when you borrow from them.
Relax all you want
|1730 – 1800||Rest, prepare for dinner, freshen up|
|1800 – 1900||Dinner!||P 47 (potluck dinner)|
Upon returning from that mangrove-and-snorkeling excursion, we the rested for a while and prepared for dinner. The climate is generally warm and dry so it is very good to bathe in a cold shower within the resort, especially at night.
Take a bath as early as possible. In the whole of Pansacola Resort, there are only for shower rooms and toilets that accommodate a large number of people, especially during weekends, long weekends, and holidays. It is very disadvantageous to wait for a long time queuing in the bathroom when you came in late.
Electricity in the island is somewhat scarce and generators are charged whole day for the vacationers to use something at night. It is also good if you have flashlights or lamps with you for the evening. There is also a small number of light bulbs provided by the resort we are in, which is a good thing. There is also a charging station for gadgets in a store near us for only PhP 10.00 per charge (on a first-come first-served basis).
Rumor has it that when electricity is not enough to accommodate everyone, they turn off the light bulbs provided as early as 1800 H to have reserve energy for the next day/s.
Nightlife in Cagbalete
|1900 – 2200||
After dinner, we had our free time and some of us bummed the shores again. You can also buy food for the next day and you can charge your gadgets at the charging station at nearby stores. It is also the perfect time to bond with friends and exchange stories with each other.
|0530||Freshen up, prepare for breakfast|
|0600 – 0700||Breakfast|
On our second day on the island, we woke up early to have some early photo-ops and some beach bumming while our breakfast was being cooked.
After, we prepared for our departure at 0900 H to catch early trips going back to Manila.
It is advantageous if your group charters a private boat so that you can contact the boat operators anytime on what time you would like to depart the island.
|0700 – 0900||Free time, prepare for departure|
|0900 – 0945||Travel Time (Cagbalete Island – Mauban Port)|
|0945 – 1115||Travel Time (Mauban, Quezon – Lucena Grand Terminal)||P 55|
|1115 – 1200||Lunch Time (Lucena Grand Terminal)||P 90|
|1200 – 1600 (or 1700)||Travel Time (Lucena Grand Terminal – JAC Liner EDSA Kamias Terminal)||P 218|
|1800||Depart for Baguio|
|GRAND TOTAL||PhP 1,387.00|
Sometimes, living a solitary life makes you wonder and wander to places you've just imagined. Exploring the unknown and going out of your comfort zone can be tough but I tell you, it's worth it. Just pack your bags and go explore. You are born to travel. ✈️ (April 24, 2016 � Cagbalete Island, Mauban, Quezon) #TuristaBoy #WhenInQuezon #WorldCitizenPassport
Although we did not meet the challenge, going to Cagbalete Island is worth the travel time and your tiredness. You get to appreciate the simplicity of island life and the warm smiles of the people are just unforgettable. It made me forget my busy City life because even in a short span of time, I was separated from all work-related stress and it gave me that much-needed breather. I would want to go back to Cagbalete as soon as possible!
So pack your bags and spend a day or two at Cagbalete Island – because we were born to travel!